Tech 5th Grade JD Turner - US Army - WWII (Posthumous)

Jessie Dellmas “JD” Turner was a giant of a man and a giant of a Patriot. He lived a remarkable life; grew up poor, knew what hunger felt like, came of age during a time in America’s history when life was much simpler, it was a time when looking people in the eye, a firm handshake and a man’s word were all-important. Respect was earned by actions and the way one lived. Compliments such as “he’s a good man” were considered the highest praise a man could receive. It was a time when responsibility, commitment, hard work and a belief in God were valued. JD Turner was all of those and more. As a member of “The Greatest Generation,” he would live through the Depression, fight in World War II to help save the world, return home, raise a family and do his part to make America the greatest country in the world.

His education was cut short when his father became ill, having a responsibility to help he began work in the pulpwood/stump wood business. During WWII, JD Turner would fulfill his commitment to America; he would leave his wife and two children, cross the Atlantic and serve with the 102nd Infantry Division. Fighting across Europe with the 407th Infantry Regiment, he saw Americans make the ultimate sacrifice, saw great destruction, and he saw the results of the Gardelegen Massacre in Germany. He never forgot! Among the Medals JD Turner received was the Bronze Star for his role in capturing a feared German Panther Tank. In a September 1980 edition of the Wakulla News, he would say “I thank God that I had the opportunity to help preserve this great government in WW II alongside millions of other husbands, sons, and fathers.”

After the War, responsibilities as a husband and father prevented him from completing his education; however, lack of formal education would not prevent JD Turner from great accomplishments. In 1948 he moved his family to Wakulla County, starting his own pulpwood and stump wood business. In 1956, after living in Wakulla for only eight years, he realized that he could make Wakulla a better place to live. The “outsider” was so respected and trusted that his fellow citizens elected him to represent them as a County Commissioner. One of his first motions was the purchase of a flagpole so the US Flag could be flown over the Courthouse. In a March 1957 edition of the Wakulla News, longtime resident and former State Senator Henry W. Walker said it was the first time in his lifetime that “a Flag has waved over the Courthouse in Wakulla County.” 

JD Turner was earning respect and Wakulla Countians trusted him so much they would elect him five times as a County Commissioner. His fellow Commissioners elected him Chairman six years and Vice Chairman two years. Respecting his position; he never missed a Commission meeting in twenty years. He served on the Wakulla Democratic Executive Committee for twenty years with fourteen as Chairman. He was invited to and attended every Governor’s inauguration from 1957 through 1995. JD Turner was so highly respected that some of Florida’s most influential citizens and high ranking officials as well as a sitting Governor would visit him in his modest Wakulla County home. When he passed away in 1995, he was, and remains as of this writing, the only person in Wakulla history to serve as a County Commissioner for twenty years.

His position as a County Commissioner and leader in Wakulla County gave JD Turner a platform to assist and support veterans. He remembered their sacrifices and his experiences in WW II. He assisted in the transportation of veterans to out of town VA Clinics/Hospitals, including transporting veterans in his personal vehicle. He hired veterans to work in his business and recruited veterans for the FHP Auxiliary, supporting those who desired jobs in the law enforcement field. Wakulla veterans remembered his support; they elected him Commander of both the Jake Pigott American Legion Post 114 and Wakulla VFW Post 4538. In May 1992, he was presented with a Life Membership in VFW Post 4538.

Civic obligations to improve life in Wakulla were important to JD Turner; he served as President of the Wakulla Chamber of Commerce, President of Crawfordville PTA, and in the Florida Highway Patrol Auxiliary he rose to the rank of Lt. Colonel, the highest rank a civilian can achieve. He was well known as an advocate for recycling and was a founding member of “Keep Wakulla County Beautiful.” Paying forward to Wakulla, he was presented with awards from youth organizations such as Future Farmers of America, 4-H Club, and Boy Scouts of America. He was a founding member of the Wakulla Swine Show and Youth Fair Association, serving a two year term as the first President. The 52nd Annual Wakulla Area Swine Festival was recently held in 2018 and is the oldest festival in Wakulla.

His contributions to Veterans, Wakulla Countians and Floridians were immense and are still paying forward. He had earned the respect of and would receive congratulatory and appreciation letters from State and local office holders as well as Governors, Senators and Congressmen. Politicians campaigning in Wakulla knew the importance of a call on JD Turner. So, you may ask, how is it that a man with a fifth grade education could achieve so much and be respected so highly? How could an “outsider” be elected as a County Commissioner after only eight years? Become the only citizen in Wakulla history to serve twenty years as a County Commissioner?

There is a saying that many in Wakulla are familiar with: “If you want the job done, give it to a busy man” JD Turner was that busy man. They knew his word was gold and the return of his firm handshake was all that was needed for a deal, he was “a good man.” Down on your luck and need a hand up, JD Turner was your man. Known throughout Wakulla as a self-made man, fellow citizens knew commitment, responsibility, hard work, and a belief in God were not catchy phrases to him, they witnessed him live them. He had earned their trust and respect, and he was no longer an “outsider,” he had become a giant in Wakulla County; he was “Mister JD.”

Additional evidence of the respect people had for JD Turner is found in the December 1994 edition of the Wakulla News. He was the unanimous selection of the Wakulla Rotary Club to receive the “Service above Self’ Award. During the presentation, Rotary President Suzanne Fields said “Mr. Turner (Mr. JD as we all know him) has given of himself to the community in the countless hours of unpaid time, and the hundreds of thankless deeds that he has generously performed.” President Fields went on to say “The citizens of Wakulla County have been blessed with an individual as giving and dedicated as Mr. J.D. Those of us who have shaken his hand, or caught his eye, are certainly aware that his handshake is his word, his word is his commitment, and his commitment is his service.”

By any and all measures, “Mister JD” is among the finest men to ever reside in Wakulla County. To those citizens of Wakulla who remember “Mister JD,” he remains a giant, to those who never knew him; his life is a model for all. 

Education and Training Accomplishments:

  • 1964-Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) Aux. Course for Legionnaires,
  • 1973,2-08 Completes required 80 Hour Course of Florida Police Minimum Standards o 1983,12-17 Completes FHP Auxiliary Course-Safety in Handling Revolvers
  • 1994,5-24 completes training for “Non-DC Personnel Supervising Offenders”

Professional and Employment History:

  • Self-employed in the pulpwood, stump wood, logging, and land clearing business, o Owner-operator of a pulpwood railroad yard and gas station
  • 1993-Wakulla County Deputy Sheriff, In charge of Litter Control Program

Advocacy on Behalf of Veterans:

  • Using his unique position and longevity as a leader, JD Turner served and assisted veterans. He actively supported veterans in their search for jobs and recruited veterans for membership in the American Legion and FHP Auxiliary. He assisted and supported the transportation of Wakulla veterans to VA clinics in Tallahassee, Lake City, and other locations, transporting them in his own vehicle when needed.
  • Veterans of Foreign Wars leader/member
  • Wakulla County Post 4538, Commander-1968, leadership positions-other years o Combined American Legion/VFW Honor Guard detail
  • American Legion leader/member
  • Commander of Jake Pigott Memorial Post 114 in Wakulla County
  • Treasurer-1970, Finance Officer-1966, Leadership positions, numerous years

Civic Activities and Contributions:

JD Turner served Florida and Wakulla County thru many endeavors. One of the first motions he made was to purchase a flagpole so the US Flag could fly in front for the Courthouse. He advocated for roads to be paved, improvements in telephone, cable TV, water, sewer, and ambulance service. Committed to the young people of Wakulla he was an active founder of the Wakulla Youth Swine Show, over fifty years later, the Youth Swine Show is still active. As President of the Chamber of Commerce he advocated to bring businesses and commerce to Wakulla County. His voluntary service and leadership of the FHP Auxiliaiy Troop H during community festivals, sporting events and disasters relieved work stress on Law Enforcement.


  • Served as a Commissioner For 20 Years: 1956-1964,1968-1972,1976-1984
  • Chairman six years-1961, 62, 63, 64, 71, 83; Vice Chairman two years: 1970,1980 o Member-Board of Directors for State Association of County Commissioners
  • Appeared before a Congressional House of Representatives sub-committee as a member of the Northwest Florida Development Council requesting economic development funds for a Nursing Home, county sewer system, and a new jailhouse.


  • Chairman 14 years, Member for over twenty years, Served on numerous committees


  • founding member of Wakulla unit of FHP Aux.-1964
  • elected as Sergeant of Wakulla unit-1964, elected as Major-1973
  • FHP Auxiliary Troop H under his leadership is the first Troop in state to complete the required 80 hour course of the Florida Police Minimum Standards 1973, 2-08. o Rank of Lt. Colonel, the highest FHP Auxiliary rank in the state of Florida
  • 23 years of service 1964-1988

Worked parking and traffic details many years for:

  • FSU, FAMU and High School football games, graduations, and special events
  • 24 Hours of Sebring, Apalachicola Seafood Festival, Florida Forest Festival- Perry, Blue Crab Festival-Panacea, 4th of July events, and North Florida Fair
  • Provided disaster assistance during hurricanes, storms, and floods
  • Provided security for President Nixon’s visit to Tallahassee in Oct 1970.


  • President-1968, Vice President-1965, Elected to Board of Directors numerous years 
  • Committee service: Wakulla Springs, Membership, Fort San Marcos Restoration,
  • Cooking and Serving, Wakulla Fun and Sun Weekend, and Rattlesnake Roundup


  • Group Commander of Wakulla Civil Defense Advisory Council
  • 1972-led efforts to reactivate American Red Cross in Wakulla-Dormant since 1917 o Elected Chairman of Wakulla American Red Cross 1972


  • Founding Member, Well known in Wakulla County as an advocate for recycling o Scholarship established in his name after his death


  • One of first motion as County Commissioner was to purchase Flagpole for Courthouse 
  • Member of Wakulla Welfare Board
  • Wakulla Advisory Committee
  • Wakulla Saddle Club. St Marks Horse Club, St Marks Men’s Club
  • Served on Wakulla Senior Citizens Council-Board Of Directors
  • Sponsors Formation of Wakulla County Sheriffs Auxiliary
  • Officiated Ceremony to dedicate the Methodist Church Parsonage-1972

Clears Land For Free:

  • Wakulla Station First Baptist Church-1983
  • Wakulla Station Volunteer Fire Department-1983
  • Crawfordville School Athletic Fields-mid 1950’s
  • Raised funds for the Wakulla Station Volunteer Fire Department 1983,2-19
  • Served on committees for a new jail-1972, and new library for Wakulla County-1972
  • Works to acquire an Ambulance Service for a growing population in Wakulla Co.
  • Works for and acquires the right to use St Marks athletic field for horse shows
  • Raises money for purchase of litter van-Blue Crab Steering Committee Donates Money,
  • Charter member of First Baptist Church in Wakulla Station, Past member-Woodville
  • Assists with construction and painting of the First Baptist Church of Wakulla Station


  • Committee Chairman for Wakulla County-1966, Camping and Activities Director-1962 
  • Fund Chairman-1959, Support and Contributions to BSA for many years


  • 4-H Advisory Board-1967, Parent Escort-Numerous Years


  • Founding Member, Organizer and First President (served two years as President)
  • Financial Contributor, Sponsor, Supporter-Numerous Years


  • Houston Taff-Winner-3rd Annual FFA Naval Stores Award at State Fair in Tampa, 1961


  • Crawfordville Schools PTA President 1961-62, 
  • Budget/Finance Committee 1956-57


  • Panther Club to Improve Athletic/Recreational Facilities in N. Wakulla County-1955 
  • Clears land for Crawfordville Football and Baseball Fields-1956
  • Assisted with Bicycle Rodeo-1965 And Other Years

Awards and Honors:

World War II – 102nd Infantry Division, 407th Infantry Regiment

  • American Campaign Medal
  • Good Conduct Medal
  • WWII Victory Medal
  • Europe Africa Mediterranean Theatre of Operations (EAMTO) Medal
  • Bronze Star Medal
  • Army of Occupation Medal with Germany Clasp
  • Battle Star for the Rhineland Campaign
  • Battle Star for the Central European Campaign
  • Combat Infantryman’s Badge

Community and Civic Awards and Honors:

  • “Honorary Farmer Award” by Future Farmers of America Organization 
  • Florida Highway Patrol Auxiliaiy-Safety Certificate, 1964
  • Florida Highway Patrol Auxiliary-Certificate of Merit-1966
  • Certificate for 20 Years Of Service to FHP Auxiliary 1984,10-06
  • Certificate for 23 Years Of Service to FHP Auxiliary 1988,1-27
  • Congratulatory letter from FHP Director Colonel Edward Beech on rising to the highest rank in the FHP Auxiliary and thanking him for his service 1975
  • Boy Scouts Of America-Award For Contributions To BSA-1962
  • 4-H Club of Wakulla County- Special 4-H Award-1967
  • Rotary Club-Service Above Self Award-1994,11-10
  • Certificate-raising funds for Wakulla Station Volunteer Fire Department, 1983,2-19
  • Invited to and attended every Governor’s Inauguration from 1957 thru 1995
  • Congratulatory Letter from State Attorney Harry Morrison on winning election
  • Congratulatory Letters from Congressman Don Fuqua and Others
  • Appreciation letter from US Senator Edward Gurney on his trip to Washington DC in 1972 as a member of the NW Florida Economic Development Council.
  • Distinguished Service Award from Wakulla Sheriff David Harvey
  • Presented with Lifetime Membership in VFW, 5-26-92
  • Scholarship Established by the “Keep Wakulla Beautiful” in his name after his death o His wife, Helen Turner, awarded Lifetime Membership in “Keep Wakulla Beautiful” o Litter van which he helped raise money for was named “Mister JD” in his honor.